America: The former superpower


America is now an ex-superpower. First, it ceased to be the biggest economy in the world. It is now only the second-biggest economy. China has long overtaken it and the tables have been turned. Communist China has not only become an economic tiger; it has also become the biggest creditor of capitalist America.

And the decline of superpower America goes beyond economics. With China’s recent foray into bullyism (yes, I invented that word) in the West Philippines Sea, it has allowed China to challenge its pre-eminence in the Pacific front. This used to be its bastion since World War II. This was why despite granting the Philippines nominal independence, it insisted on utilizing the country as an unsinkable military carrier with take-off points at Clark and Subic. These were bases that used to be its biggest military installations outside the mainland US.

Today, it is longer the US Navy that is feared in this part of the world. It is now the Chinese Navy that lords it over in these waters. First it took possession of Mischief Reef in the disputed Kalayaan groups of islands from Filipino soldiers then assigned in the island. Today, it has effectively driven away all Filipino presence in Panatag Shoal, an area that is literally the backwaters of the province of Zambales. And if the respected journalist Chito Santamaria is correct, China is not just interested in the fishing waters around Panatag. The real battleground, according to Chito, is Recto Bank where Manny Pangilinan is about to drill for oil.

Amidst this newfound Chinese expansionism, where is America? Well, at the first sign of a conflict, Hilary Clinton declared that it would take a neutral stance and urged a peaceful settlement of the dispute. Later, when the standoff persisted, she declared during a US Senate concurrence hearing on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea that China’s claims to the vast waters of the West Philippine Sea exceeded what is allowed under international law. And recently, when President Noynoy Aquino went to the US begging anew for help, no less than President Barack Obama was clearly non-committal. This is apparent in a White House release after the meeting between Obama and PNoy stating, among others, that the two leaders merely agreed on “firm support for a collaborative diplomatic process among claimants to resolve territorial disputes in a manner consistent with international law and without coercion or the use of force.”

Make no mistake about it. Uncle Joe can’t be counted upon to deal with China- the bully.

Central to American foreign policy is that as the lone superpower of the world, it can be counted upon to maintain peace and order in this planet. At the very least, if its economic woes have become so bad that it can no longer play the role of superman, it should have sufficient resources to stand by its long-standing ally when needed. But no, nowadays, the American position is for its allies to swim or sink. Full stop.

This is not to say that the American position is wrong. I for one have never believed that mother America will ever come to our rescue solely to defend our interests. This is why I have been a long supporter of the likes of Claro M. Recto and Jovito R. Salonga, who believed no one can be counted to uphold Philippine interest but us -Filipinos.

Still, this lackadaisical manner by which America seems to regard the recent threat of Chinese expansionism is a major change in its foreign policy.

Make no mistake about it. While America couldn’t care less about the West Philippine Sea, it will come back to Subic and Clark not to defend us; but to uphold its own national interest. This is why it is in the process of sending 60 percent of its navy forces to Asia. Malacañang, I’m sure would want to take credit for this. But nope, this has been in the offing even before our recent controversy with China. At most, perhaps, the actual deployment of these forces to Asia was hastened by the dispute. They will come though not because Scarborough and the Spratly islands are ours. They will come because China’s claims to these territories may precisely hinder deployment of their ships into these waters.

We, unfortunately, are irrelevant to their policy.

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10 comments on “America: The former superpower

  1. aaron a. legaspi says:

    I agree with you harry the Philippines was never a priority nor included in their first 10 of importance. In World War 2 the US came to the Philippines only after all of Europe and sprinkling of their island territories in the Pacific were liberated first. Also they pour much,much money to Germany and Japan after the War. But it is not the fault of US but the fault of Manuel Roxas and all the Presidents we have elected since 1946 plus all the 3 branches of Government including the rich elite. These people have handled the stewardship of this country and from No. 2 to Japan in the 1950s we became No. 2 to the last by 1990. But I disagree with you that US is now second to China because as long they control the air and space thru its NASA and the Oceans thru their mighty 7th fleet and other fleets they can never be No. 2 economically or otherwise.

    • eric says:

      I agree! Harry is just as same as us who follows news daily. He has no access to any SECRET logs that list unexposed powers of the US Military.

  2. Let us peer the China activities as a whole. (1) A new road under construction from China crossing the Himalaya to Pakistan. (2) China is giving financial assistance to Nepal government. (3) China constructed the deep-sea-port in Sri Lanka and is now operational. Judging on her doing, China has a huge ambition to dominate the whole Asia. It is likely a superpower in Asia. India having almost equal manpower to China is surrounded with China’s allies. But China is very far behind from America in military superiority. The war today is no longer a man-to-man combat in the frontline, or a dog-fight above the sky. It is thru computer using an unmanned drones acting as predators. If the war erupt, we can say the strong would have ZERO casualty. For the moment, China is bullying her neighbors in the pacific but kowtowing to America.

  3. worldmariner says:

    China is now dominating the US in many fronts and is now inching their way to air, space and the oceans. Given their current economic status and resources, they just need time and they would be able to control these areas. I’m hoping, though, that US won’t let this to happen.

  4. simplions says:

    Though I believe that China can become a superpower I also believe that China cannot overtake the US as a superpower. Simply put, China has tons of corruption, political instability, pollution, faces overpopulation, and poverty. Westerners are the ones who economically own China. Large numbers of American and European Companies are moving in China, for what reason? It’s because of it’s population, meaning cheap labor. The result is, tons of ghost cities in China. Geo-politically, China is an island. To the west it is surrounded by deserts and to the east, a vast open sea. Meaning it’s population density (common sense wise) is located to the east, so a simple Military operation on it’s coasts would have drastic effects. This also means that China has small room for improvement and it NEEDS to get more land mass.

    The next point is who is China’s friend? Certainly as a country that was closed to the world before, it has a few friends right? Let’s see, Japan? No. India? No. Certainly not any of the European countries.

    What about China in the field of science and technology? China is well behind sorry to say, but what is the reason? It’s because China doesn’t have the ability to attract people. I don’t know of anyone who wants to live in China, they all want to live in the United States. It’s because America is a great country to start with, and is a symbol of success – a.k.a the American Dream. It’s this reason that America continuously get’s more and more brilliant people (Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, etc.).

    The next one that marks a great superpower is culture, In the world’s eye, China is mysterious, much like North Korea. Both America and UK catches the eye of everyone, from Isaac Newton, The Beatles, Elvis Presley to Neil Armstrong and Albert Einstein, they have a famous bunch in social culture today.

    Another thing to point out is military strength, America spends $ 700 Billion in it’s Military Budget. We can assume that because of this budget they have a higher level of military technology, and we can also assume that they are hiding that technology. Much like how America hid the technology of the Atom Bomb in World War II, they have probably also hid a new technology. No one in the world knew that America and Germany were developing bombs capable of destroying entire cities, it was only heard of during the Bombing of Japan which surprised everyone. No one also new of a plane that could go invisible in radar until it was used in the late 1970s where contrary, that plane was developed and perfected during the early 1960s. From what I could remember, there’s this top guy on the American Military R & D who headlined the 1980s news where he said that they have developed ALMOST everything we have dreamed of, another one was that another guy during the 1990s said that America have always been above 20 years in the field of technology. This I can believe of.

    One last point to ponder is that this whole economic rising of China is nothing more than a bubble, it’s got to stop somewhere through because of China’s geo-political factors. I suggest you read more articles and books about this and not just listen to the tabloids, polls, and seemingly legitimate news. I also think that you are right that America is siding with us because of it’s own selfish claims, every country does that, there has to be a reason for everything. But with all of this, you are wrong that we are on the bottom of their priority list, we are their closest and oldest ally in Asia after all and we are also their stepping stone to Asian power projection and dominance.

    Someone commented that the US only came after the European Field was peaceful as an evidence that we are not their greatest priority. Well guess what genius, strategy-wise; Germany was the strongest of the axis and at that time, is also the most technologically advanced in the war and is also developing atomic bombs, also the Japanese bombed the freakin’ Pearl Harbor. So their military power to project across Asia is crippled, and using strategy dashed with a little common sense – It is much better to liberate first the Pacific than go liberate the whole Philippine archipelago right? They also didn’t pour that much money in Germany – and they poured some money into it because it was theirs, remember the Berlin Wall? They also poured money to Japan because at that time, they own it and what better way to improve the whole country and politically own it by elevating it’s economy with dollars. And also, I remember that the American government poured much more money into our country than was given to Japan, It is because of the American and European Investors that made Japan rich during the 1960s.

    China will be a superpower, It could rise above the EU and every other country except the US. We as Filipinos need to take action and we need a bold leader, someone with guts like Ronald Reagan, someone who can move the masses – Erap for president anyone? haha! There is still hope for us filipinos, we have a great country, with the huge untapped resources and our position in Asia we can become a superpower, geo-politically, we can become better than Japan and India. Mabuhay!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Lastly, thank you for your article. I had a great time reading it :) Time to go back and review for tomorrows test :))

  5. simplions says:

    Though I believe that China can become a superpower I also believe that China cannot overtake the US as a superpower. Simply put, China has tons of corruption, political instability, pollution, faces overpopulation, and poverty. Westerners are the ones who economically own China. Large numbers of American and European Companies are moving in China, for what reason? It\’s because of it\’s population, meaning cheap labor. The result is, tons of ghost cities in China. Geo-politically, China is an island. To the west it is surrounded by deserts and to the east, a vast open sea. Meaning it\’s population density (common sense wise) is located to the east, so a simple Military operation on it\’s coasts would have drastic effects. This also means that China has small room for improvement and it NEEDS to get more land mass.

    The next point is who is China\’s friend? Certainly as a country that was closed to the world before, it has a few friends right? Let\’s see, Japan? No. India? No. Certainly not any of the European countries.

    What about China in the field of science and technology? China is well behind sorry to say, but what is the reason? It\’s because China doesn\’t have the ability to attract people. I don\’t know of anyone who wants to live in China, they all want to live in the United States. It\’s because America is a great country to start with, and is a symbol of success – a.k.a the American Dream. It\’s this reason that America continuously get\’s more and more brilliant people (Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, etc.).

    The next one that marks a great superpower is culture, In the world\’s eye, China is mysterious, much like North Korea. Both America and UK catches the eye of everyone, from Isaac Newton, The Beatles, Elvis Presley to Neil Armstrong and Albert Einstein, they have a famous bunch in social culture today.

    Another thing to point out is military strength, America spends $ 700 Billion in it\’s Military Budget. We can assume that because of this budget they have a higher level of military technology, and we can also assume that they are hiding that technology. Much like how America hid the technology of the Atom Bomb in World War II, they have probably also hid a new technology. No one in the world knew that America and Germany were developing bombs capable of destroying entire cities, it was only heard of during the Bombing of Japan which surprised everyone. No one also new of a plane that could go invisible in radar until it was used in the late 1970s where contrary, that plane was developed and perfected during the early 1960s. From what I could remember, there\’s this top guy on the American Military R & D who headlined the 1980s news where he said that they have developed ALMOST everything we have dreamed of, another one was that another guy during the 1990s said that America have always been above 20 years in the field of technology. This I can believe of.

    One last point to ponder is that this whole economic rising of China is nothing more than a bubble, it\’s got to stop somewhere through because of China\’s geo-political factors. I suggest you read more articles and books about this and not just listen to the tabloids, polls, and seemingly legitimate news. I also think that you are right that America is siding with us because of it\’s own selfish claims, every country does that, there has to be a reason for everything. But with all of this, you are wrong that we are on the bottom of their priority list, we are their closest and oldest ally in Asia after all and we are also their stepping stone to Asian power projection and dominance.

    Someone commented that the US only came after the European Field was peaceful as an evidence that we are not their greatest priority. Well guess what genius, strategy-wise; Germany was the strongest of the axis and at that time, is also the most technologically advanced in the war and is also developing atomic bombs, also the Japanese bombed the freakin\’ Pearl Harbor. So their military power to project across Asia is crippled, and using strategy dashed with a little common sense – It is much better to liberate first the Pacific than go liberate the whole Philippine archipelago right? They also didn\’t pour that much money in Germany – and they poured some money into it because it was theirs, remember the Berlin Wall? They also poured money to Japan because at that time, they own it and what better way to improve the whole country and politically own it by elevating it\’s economy with dollars. And also, I remember that the American government poured much more money into our country than was given to Japan, It is because of the American and European Investors that made Japan rich during the 1960s.

    China will be a superpower, It could rise above the EU and every other country except the US. We as Filipinos need to take action and we need a bold leader, someone with guts like Ronald Reagan, someone who can move the masses – Erap for president anyone? haha! There is still hope for us filipinos, we have a great country, with the huge untapped resources and our position in Asia we can become a superpower, geo-politically, we can become better than Japan and India. Mabuhay!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Lastly, thank you for your article. I had a great time reading it Time to go back and review for tomorrows test )

  6. simplions says:

    Sorry for the double post (now triple), I had an internet connection problem and I had refreshed the site not knowing It will post double.

  7. I wouldn’t be so quick to judge Uncle Sam (the U.S.) as being “lackdaisical” (as Atty Harry Roque labels it). We have to keep in mind that the Democratic Party (to which Pres. Obama is member of) is known to have ideals that puts priority on internal matters over foreign affairs. Quite possibly, this stems from their inherent nature to use diplomacy first. Military options are only considered when all diplomatic efforts fail.

    Case in points and a basis for comparisons:

    former president Clinton is also a democrat. He was criticized for his foreign affairs policy much more so over Obama. And yet, during his 2-terms, he contributed to the growth of the U.S. economy, even producing a significant budget surplus. However, he had the chance to rid of Osama Bin Laden before 9/11…an opportunity which could have prevented the 9/11 tragedy. Bin Laden was already a threat at the time hence was on top of the U.S. list of targets. Special forces already had him cornered and on their crosshairs waiting on the ‘go signal’ from then president Clinton. But, Clinton backed down. In doing so, it essentially paved the way for 9/11.

    Conversely, the other political party, the Republicans, takes a firmer stand on foreign affairs. Recent examples are former President Bush (the father) who was quick to go to war against Iraq when Iraq invaded Kuwait. And former President Bush (the son) who opted out of doing additional U.N. inspections of Iraq’s supposed nuclear initiatives (namely, the production of weapons of mass destructions). Instead, he pushed the U.S. to war on the grounds that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which later was learned to be untrue. Despite removing Iraq’s dictator, Iraq is no better of. In fact, it continues to be a dangerous place and on the verge of civil war. No wonder so many in the Middle East are totally pissed at the U.S. A possible contributor to the growth of terrorism.

    Another point to mention: the significant budget surplus that former President Clinton raised was burnt by the republicans in all the wars they put the U.S. in, including the war against terrorism. This put America on the edge which may be a contributor to the beginning of it’s economic downfall.

    Anyhow, I wonder how things would be with this China bullying if the republicans are in control of the oval office today. On the other hand, would China overtake the U.S. as the first world economy if the Bush’s (or any republican for that matter) lost the presidency to a democrat (with the same caliber as Clinton) during their time? All intriguing thoughts.

    • harryroque says:

      Thanks for your observations. I did notice the stark differences in approaches between the Democrats and the Republicans in my recent visit to DC only last week.

      Cheers!

  8. [...] I wouldn’t be so quick to judge Uncle Sam (the U.S.) as being “lackdaisical” (as Atty Harry Ro…. We have to keep in mind that the Democratic Party (to which Pres. Obama is member of) is known to have ideals that puts priority on internal matters over foreign affairs. Quite possibly, this stems from their inherent nature to use diplomacy first. Military options are only considered when all diplomatic efforts fail. [...]

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